Two For The Money

Two For The Money (2005)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven
Extras: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Interviews, Trailers, TV Spots

College football star Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey) suffers a career ending injury that forces him to give up the game he loves. Soon after, Brandon turns his knack of calculating statistics and player characteristics into a winning formula that he provides to a 1-900 number based betting company in Las Vegas in the film "Two for the Money." With his knack of being able to consistently choose winners, Brandon attracts the attentions of Walter Abrams (Al Pacino), a New York businessman building a sports empire of sorts that charges for and provides "tips" only to would be high rollers of the sports gambling world, a purely legal approach to getting around that states tough gambling laws. Other than the obvious storyline of sports betting, "Two for the Money" also shows us how each of the main characters struggle with their own personal addictions and are almost drawn together by each others brokenness. With Brandon vying for the attentions and approval of a fatherly figure in the forming of a father/son type relationship with Walter, and Walter himself fighting the urge of a past addiction to gambling and dealing with health problems, yet always succumbing to a lit cigarette. Even Walter's wife Toni (Rene Russo), who plays a great role as the always likable mediator between the two, was once a social drug abuser. As the money starts to roll in, egos clash and friendships become strained eventually leading to personal and financial downfalls, forcing the trio to consider the important things in life, something other than the next adrenaline rush from a big win.

Universal Home Entertainment debuts "Two for the Money" in an anamorphic enhanced widescreen presentation, displaying an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Exhibiting a clean and crisp transfer that offers rich color saturation and deep black levels; showcasing this well acted and tastefully written drama. There is the slight introduction of aliasing in a scene or two, which is hardly worth mentioning as the overall presentation is quite enjoyable.

Displaying naturally appearing vocals and smooth, rich bass that heightens the final sound mix, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack matches appropriately with the visual presentation. There is noticeably subdued use of surround channels as the soundstage remains predominantly between the front three speakers, but given the material being presented, you can hardly be disappointed.

"Two for the Money" comes to DVD with a general assortment of special features. A nicely presented audio commentary features good input from director D.J. Caruso and screenwriter Dan Gilroy. Here you will learn how Dan wrote the role of Toni Morrow specifically with actor Rene Russo in mind, who just so happens to be his real life spouse.

There is also the featurette "The Making of Two for the Money" that serves up the typical behind-the-scenes interviews paired with footage from the film. "Insider Interview: The Real Brandon" is worth a viewing as screenwriter Dan Gilroy re-unites with Brandon Link, the real inspiration behind the character of Brandon Lang that will give you some added insight to the story. Eight deleted and/or extended scenes offer you the choice of viewing with an audio commentary from director D.J. Caruso or screenwriter Dan Gilroy. Finishing of the added value materials section is a theatrical trailer and TV spots.

I was totally drawn to "Two for the Money" for the sheer pleasure of witnessing the always enjoyable Al Pacino, who provides yet another concrete performance in what I discovered to be a genuinely deep down heartfelt story.